He proved he can handle a minivan, three kids and a busy mom's to-do list with ease, not to mention orchestrating a va-va-voom high school reunion makeover for a deserving teacher. Now, Nate Berkus is playing matchmaker.
Outside the design showroom, Nate's known as a straight shooter when it comes to dating advice. His new mission is to help 41-year-old Robin get her dating life back on track.
From ages 16 to 26, Robin says she never went a day without a boyfriend. Now, she spends nights at home with her three cats. "I was homecoming princess, cheerleading captain," she says. "I'm not unfortunate looking. I'm still the same size I was in high school and college. No need for Botox yet. I'm completely independent."
Still, Robin says she just can't find a guy she likes. "I can literally be at a street fest with thousands of people and not meet a single guy I want to talk to," she says. "Then when I finally do meet someone who tickles my fancy, the guy ends up not being into me. I've pretty much given up hope."
Nate calls in a modern-day cupid for backup. The Millionaire Matchmaker's Patti Stanger is a third-generation matchmaker responsible for fixing up hundreds of couples.
This dating dream team starts by reviewing Robin's wish list—which includes a man who's never been married, has no kids and never drinks out of straws.
Patti says Robin is committing the worst mistake a single woman can make—sabotage. "They need to reprogram their brain and believe that he is out there," she says. "It's like, 'There's no such person, I'm going to make an impossible wish list, and therefore I'm going to be alone for the rest of my life. That's ridiculous. There are a lot of good men out there."
Robin needs to open herself up. "There are so many gifts out there that you've just got to receive," Patti says. "Ask, believe and receive—and enjoy the process! Dating's supposed to be fun."
To find the right man, Patti says Robin must reevaluate her deal breakers. "Deal breakers are morals, values, interests, things that are going to change your life for the better or the worse," Patti says. "I think [her wish list] would scare any man off because it's like she's interviewing for a husband."
Robin brainstorms what she expects in an ideal mate—and comes up with 25 must-have traits!
On paper, Patti says Robin comes off as high maintenance—a huge turnoff to most men. "A lot of guys are gun-shy in this society, and they're afraid to make mistakes," she says. "If they see that the wish list is so rigid, in their thinking, they're not going to step off the curb to date you even if they're a great guy."
Nate says Robin's list isn't the result of her being ultra-picky or cruel—it's because she's been burned before. "I think that you are tired of things not working out," he says. "So it's better to just put this all up front and say, 'Look, if you don't meet any of these characteristics, if these aren't your traits, then go away because I've already worked with all these guys and gone out and it hasn't happened.'"
Robin agrees and says she's ready to take the next step. "We're going to wipe the slate clean right now," Patti says. "I want to start from scratch because we need a new life and a new you."
Robin narrows her list to the five top qualities she wants in a guy:
Passionate about life
Silly and funny
Patti says narrowing down your list isn't about lowering your expectations. It's about determining what's most important in a partner. "You're not buying a car. You're not ordering a pizza. People come with damages and flaws. It's about the chemistry and then finding out if you have the same morals and values and if you want the same thing in life at the same time," Patti says. "People don't realize that. They think they're ordering every little thing on their wish list and God's just going to deliver it to you tomorrow."
Next up in Nate and Patti's crash course in love? A surprise blind date. As Robin meets Rick for lunch at a restaurant, Nate and Patti hole up in a surveillance van right outside!
Lunch starts off well when Robin orders a beer instead of wine. "He was very impressed," Patti says. "Because what does that tell you? Down-to-earth girl."
After a toast, Robin reveals that she has chosen places to live specifically to meet people. "She sounds a little desperate that she keeps talking about she moved to Chicago to find guys," Nate says.
Patti senses that Rick is losing interest, so she sends a note to Robin through the waiter. Her instructions? Robin needs to let her hair down—literally. "The conversation was going in a really bad direction," Patti says. "I needed to shift it, and the only way to shift men is to—I hate to say this—[is to] sexually shift them. He's a guy. He's got different equipment than us. Remember that."
Nate admits he was skeptical but saw Rick's interest return as soon as Robin's ponytail was down. "I'm telling you the truth," he says. "As soon as the hair came down he was, like, 'So...'"
As lunch progresses, Patti and Nate notice Robin isn't letting her true self shine. "Patti and I both thought that Robin was dumbing herself down a little bit by being a little too cutesy," he says. "He would ask her something and Robin would say, 'Oh, I don't know.' It was sort of an energy that was coming across."
The dating detectives call Robin over for a conference by the bathroom, where they learn Robin's not into Rick after all. The reason? He's too old. "I feel like a lot of the single men I meet that are my age have old hearts or old spirits, and I'm a young at heart," she says. "That's why I'm not asking for 40. I want them younger than 40. I mean not 20s, but mid-30s is a perfect range for someone my age."
When it comes to first date dos, Patti warns against overthinking every little detail. "Basically you go on the date, you look good, you smell good, you smile," she says. "You accept the invitation, and you're receptive to it."
Patti also advises against judging and criticizing before you really get to know the person. "Don't criticize the man," she says. "You've got to be really nice to people."
Also, don't shy away from asking questions. "When you engage and you are basically asking the questions, you're the most invested in the relationship," she says.
Although Robin and Rick weren't a match, Patti says she has no doubt that Robin will find love. "She learned a lot. I am so proud of her," Patti says. "Just know he is out there. You are not going to be alone. You've got the tools. Just learn how to use them."